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Apple’s reportedly flat iPhone production target for 2022 isn’t a great sign

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The phones will be better, the sales could be stagnant

Apple’s reportedly predicting flat demand for the iPhone 13 and 14.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple, one of the biggest tech companies on the planet, reportedly doesn’t think it’ll sell any more iPhones this year than it did last year, despite rumors that the iPhone 14 will come with some major improvements (via MacRumors). While it’s not necessarily a canary in the coal mine (or a Waffle House being closed) that the world will keep getting worse, Apple predicting that sales of its most popular product won’t grow could be a sign that the company’s relatively pessimistic about the state of things in the near future.

According to Bloomberg, the company is asking its suppliers to make around 220 million iPhones, which is similar to how many it requested in 2021. This runs contrary to some analysts’ predictions, which forecasted that Apple would need to make around 20 million more phones this year than it did last year.

It’s easy to see why. The iPhone 14 Pro is expected to ditch the notch (meaning it’ll be very obvious who has the new phone and who doesn't, which wasn’t necessarily the case with the iPhone 13), and Apple’s expected to introduce a less expensive big phone. It sounds like a recipe for success.

But good recipes can be ruined if you add something gross to them. And while some of us hoped that 2022 might finally mean the nightmare was over, a war, continued COVID-19 lockdowns, and skyrocketing inflation pretty much put an end to that.

Of course, Apple’s predictions aren’t infallible. We’ve seen a lot of reports that it’s cut production after overestimating how many phones it’d need. It’s always possible Apple’s wrong and lots of people will want to buy phones despite everything going on. Maybe the masses aren’t seeing all doom and gloom.

But it could go the other way. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said on Twitter that he believes “iPhone 14’s challenges will come from the demand side instead of the supply side.” In other words, he thinks that Apple will be able to meet its production goals (though he says it’s got some catching up to do thanks to lockdowns), but even those goals may be too high.